Thank you to Marvel Studios for hosting me and setting up this episode preview interview during the Ant-Man and The Wasp Event! All opinions expressed are 100% my own.
Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger hooked me from the very first few minutes. Admittedly, I am not a giant fan of the comic book characters but I love Freeform shows so I wanted to give this one a chance. Boy am I glad I did. Each episode gets better and better – literally. Just when I think there is no possible way that they can top an episode, they do. And they are the master of leaving us with a cliffhanger and making us wait a week to find out what is going to happen. While in LA for the Ant-Man and The Wasp event, I got an advanced screening of episode five. No shocker when I say it was the best one yet. After it ended, in walked the creator/showrunner Joe Pokaski, Andrea Roth (Melissa Bowen), Miles Mussenden (Otis Johnson), and the Vice President of Original Programming at MARVEL TV, Tom Lieber. We chatted with them about how the show came about and what we might see in the future.
The Parent Story Line
As we know, Cloak and Dagger is all about Tyrone and Tandy’s story. But their parents have a very important story to tell too. Tom told us that from the moment Joe got a series order, he crafted interesting character arcs for all four parents as well as Tandy and Tyrone. “Melissa’s in particular, Joe had a vision for that right from the beginning.” Of course, the story line itself is a spoiler, but Joe added in what inspired him. “I grew up with three sisters, so I was witness to many versions of the mother daughter dynamic. Someone once told me the hardest two points in a woman’s life are when she is 16 and when her daughter is 16. That was the basis for the Tandy/Melissa relationship.” As a mom of two daughters, I can tell you that I am not looking forward to when my girls are teens. Hopefully we will still have a close relationship, but I remember how things were when I was 16.
Joe said he didn’t want to spoil too much, but he added “The mother’s arc in this case is one of the most secretly heroic. It will get really raw and real. I think what she did for Tandy is pretty impressive.” This has me really excited because I adore Andrea Roth. I look forward to seeing what Melissa does for Tandy. Joe also let us know he hopes they tell different parent stories than we have seen on television before.
Joe added, “For both of these characters, pay attention to episode 8, which is like a part 2 to our pilot. It is an emotional origin story for a lot of our characters.” I cannot wait!
Casting Olivia and Aubrey
Joe let us know that casting Cloak and Dagger went very last minute. They auditioned thousands before finding them – on a Saturday, about a week before the left to start filming. “It was one of the most beautiful things that ever happened in my professional life. They read separately and we all relaxed a little. Like in an emergency these two will do OK. Gina Prince-Bythewood pulled the cemetery scene from the pilot, which [Olivia and Aubrey] hadn’t seen and said just improv this. Olivia and Aubrey just talked. Literally, it was like Spider-Man in that Avengers movie, all our hair started standing up. This is it. We were being perfectionists, but it all paid off when we found our Tandy and Tyrone.”
Choosing the Music
If you have seen Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger then you know the story is often propelled by the music that is involved. I just had to ask Joe what his process is like choosing it, because I really do feel it perfectly fits every scene. Joe let us know that he has always been into music, and that it started when he was on Underground. “Misha and I would listen to 100 songs for each placement and we brought a lot of that team over. Jonathan Christiansen from Hit The Ground Running is our music supervisor and he is amazing. We will be like ‘we want something like this Rihanna song which we can never afford’ and he will think outside the box. Our editors will throw a few things in. The sound mixing guys are the same who do Stranger Things [and Luke Cage]. I take it way too seriously. I probably listen to 100 songs for every spot we are having trouble with and then we find it. It is amazing how the music lifts up the footage and vice versa sometimes.”
Trauma in the Johnson Family
Within the first few episodes, we immediately see how the death of Billy has impacted the Johnson family. Tyrone is pulling away from his parents, who seem to be pretty over protective of him. I can totally understand this as a parent. We wanted to know if we might see that starting to get resolved this season, or if their relationship might fracture even more. Miles took this one head on with a great answer “There’s some level of PTSD that is there when you have these things happen in families, and it never goes away. It’s almost like something under the rug and we struggle to deal with it head on. [Adina] works, works, works. I don’t know if I can say where we are going with it, but there is definitely something there that we need to work out.”
Parenting Off Screen
Otis and Melissa have very different parenting styles, that is pretty obvious when you watch Cloak and Dagger. But since we had Miles and Andrea who play these characters with us for the interview, we asked them if they learned anything about their own parenting styles in the process. Andrea joked “ease off the drugs and booze“, which is actually pretty solid advice. But Miles dove deeper in to things, “I learned a long time ago not be controlling and let my kids be them. Here and now, you gotta pay attention to your children in a different kind of way, I learned. You have to listen to the things that are unsaid and pick up and perceive what is going on in your children’s lives. I feel like I learned that with Aubrey. Things are going on in his life that I don’t really know until a little bit late. With my kids I try to pay attention a little bit more. Look around a little bit more. Who are their friends? What are they doing? Make sure that the relationships in their lives are healthy besides what they are telling me.”
Why New Orleans?
Cloak and Dagger usually hang around New York in the comic books, so we asked Joe why he chose New Orleans for this show and story to take place. His first answer? New York is already very well protected – it is full of superheroes! “Something felt very Cloak and Dagger about New Orleans. I think it is our most European city. It feels like it has a history older than the country. The more we learned about it, it did a lot of our work for us. We brought on some writers that are familiar with New Orleans. The more we learned about New Orleans, the more we were surprised Cloak and Dagger weren’t there the whole time.”
Will We See Costumes & A Crossover?
In the comic books, Cloak and Dagger seem to be the ultimate crossover superheroes. There is not a comic book story line where they don’t pop up. Which is one of the reasons I love them so much. Personally, I am just not a fan of their solo stuff, but I like them in the big picture. That show has changed this for me. We asked Joe if there is a possibility we will see any crossovers with Tandy and Tyrone. “If I had my way yes. I’ve sat near Josh Schwartz at premieres and been like ‘so season three we can all get together right?’ Hopefully Aubrey and Olivia will be welcomed into some places and we’ll let them go.”
Since we were on the subject of the comic books, I just had to ask if we would see costumes any time soon. We saw a hint of one for Cloak in episode 4, which Joe mentioned. But I was curious what else we might see this season. “I think we are probably going to stay away from the weird sexist slit all the way down [Tandy’s costume], even in jest. We are focusing on character as much as possible in the beginning.”
A Show For Everybody
Andrea Roth loves that Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger is a show for everyone, and I must agree. “I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have [Joe’s] writing and vision. I feel like this show has something for everybody – it isn’t just a young adult show. My friends are watching it and are obsessed with it. Which is really exciting. I think it is also because of the writing of the parents.”
Miles Mussenden added in his thoughts about the stories that Cloak & Dagger tells. “Even though these are superheroes, these are real things that people go through. And real things that I think about as a father now, that I have to think about for Tyrone. To be able to bring that and show that in a real way is tremendous. These things are so relevant.”
About Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger
“Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger” is the story of Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph). Two teenagers from very different backgrounds, who find themselves burdened by and awakened to newly discovered superpowers which are mysteriously linked to one another.
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